Mumbai: Exactly two months after the unfortunate death of an 18-year-old student, Darshan Solanki, IIT Bombay introduced a 24/7 helpline for all its students on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
The Student Affairs (SA) Dean, in a message to all students across the institute, shared a mental health helpline number that will be accessible if one requires emergency counselling. The platform will also allow students to chat with the counsellors via text messages or video call appointments.
While the service has been made available to all students free of cost, not many are confident about trying it out as they don’t know much about the counsellors on the other end of the telephone. “All we have is a number. We don’t know who is taking our calls, whether they are sensitive to our problems or qualified to deal with it. I found it really tough to trust the service,” said a Ph.D. student at the IIT.
Apart from the online service, IIT Bombay has a team of at least six full-time and two part-time counsellors on the Powai campus who make up the institute’s Student Wellness Centre. IITians can contact the centre to make appointments for in-person counselling sessions. “The Student Wellness Centre is a helpful concept for sure, but the approach of our counsellors does not necessarily suit us,” said a second-year-old student who once frequented the SWC.
“I found that the SWC professionals only counselled me and did not use any actual clinical therapy practises. This approach did not help me with my problems. My friends who have been to the centre have also reported a breach in their doctor-patient privilege. This news makes new students hesitant about the service,” she added.
While talking to The FPJ, a few IITians also confessed that they did not know much about the working hours of the Student Wellness Centre. This 24-hour helpline comes as a relief to many who know they can make emergency calls any time of the day without worrying about the shift of their counsellors. “The helpline and the centre can only help us with problems like academic stress and bad breakups. If I am facing any mental health problems beyond that, I will have to refer to help outside the IIT,” said a Ph.D. who has lived on the IIT-B campus for the past seven years.